Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. [Matthew 5:9]
As if verse 8 wasn’t radical enough, Jesus ups the ante yet again by telling his listeners that it’s not only possible to see God face to face, you can also be His child. This is huge! If his audience thought he was crazy before…
In the Jewish culture, and many other ancient cultures for that matter, people were defined by their family line. Genealogy was important. It was how people were recognized, how it was determined the kind of work they would do and even where they could live. For the first 30 or so years of his life Jesus was known as the son of Joseph a carpenter who lived in Nazareth. That family line determined who he was, what he could do and were he could go. But the gospel writers are also quick to point out that a little further back Jesus also came from the line of the great King David and therefore was afforded a certain amount of respect among the temple elite. Now he’s telling his listeners that if you align yourself with the way of peacemaking you will become a family member with the creator of the universe.
That’s just nuts! What does that even mean?!?
Here in Canada we are proud of our military heritage as peacekeepers. The first United Nations peacekeeping mission sent to defuse the Suez Crisis in 1956 was the brainchild of Lester B Pearson. At the time Pearson was Canada’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the United Nations. For his efforts in creating UN Peacekeeping and the structure of the UN Security Council Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 and is viewed as hero in Canada. It was enough to get an airport named after him and to be elected Prime Minister.
But it’s easy to confuse peacekeeping with peacemaking. They are not the same; peacekeeping assumes a starting point from a state of peace that is in danger of eroding while peacemaking assumes a starting point from a state of conflict toward a state of peace. Peacemaking is actively trying to make things better while peacekeeping is passively protecting the status quo.
It’s clear that Jesus is not calling us to protect that status quo he’s calling us to something better. But what’s better than peace?
With righteousness he will judge the needy;
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. [Isaiah 11:4a]
Jesus is calling us to a special kind of peace that is more than just the absence of conflict. I’ve said it on this page before but it’s worth repeating; I firmly believe that peace without justice is nothing more than oppression and just by removing open hostilities from a situation you have not achieved a real, lasting peace. The kind of peace Jesus is talking about is much bigger than just the absence of conflict. It is holistic and just.
Blessed are those who work for complete justice in the face of conflict, for they will be welcome in God’s family.
So what’s your attitude toward peacemaking?